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Noble Ardent at Solenzara

Exercise NOBLE ARDENT 08 (NAT 08), a large scale NATO Response Force (NRF) Air Component Command (ACC) exercise, will be held on several Air Bases in France from 06 to 16 October 2008. Additional units across Germany and UK will also actively participate in the exercise.

NAT 08 is a live exercise (LIVEX) designed to provide force integration and combat readiness training for the Air Forces allocated to NATO Response Force (NRF) rotation 12. The exercise has been designed to prepare assigned forces for their role by exercising in a challenging environment the interoperability and capability requirements necessary for the force to operate safely and effectively across the full spectrum of potential NRF missions. The exercise scenario is based on a NRF Initial Entry Operation into a fictitious state, a scenario specifically designed for this exercise.

The aim of NAT 08 is to confirm and validate the interoperability, readiness and capability of NRF 12 assigned forces under the command of the NRF 12 ACC by exercising NRF missions and tasks in a demanding and realistic scenario.

Air units from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the USA will participate in NAT 08. France will host the exercise and the French Air Defence and Air Operations Command will assume the role of NRF Air Component Command (NRF ACC). Over 100 aircraft ranging from fighters, helicopters, tankers and airborne early warning aircraft are planned to participate from across 17 Air bases; 13 of which are located in France plus two others in Germany and two in the UK. In addition, tactical employment of Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) and Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) assets will be extensively exercised. A Polish AF CN295 was based at BA Orleans during the exercise.

Media Day
On Tuesday 14th October 2008, Solenzara airbase welcomed national and international media representatives both for a presentation of Noble Ardent exercise. During this «Media Day», 24 journalists, photographers and cameramen from several newspapers or TV stations (Air et Cosmos, Info Pilote, La République de Centre, Global Aviation Review Press, Sentry Aviation News, France 3 Corse, Corse Matin...) visited the airbase.

Earlier in the morning, the twenty journalists took off from Villacoublay on-board a French Air Force Casa CN 235. At their arrival in Corsica, they were welcomed by the staff of the NMIC (Nato Media Information Centre) and driven to the airbase mess for fresh drinks and coffee. Lieutenant-colonel Maurino, Spanish Air Force and chief of the Exercise Control team (EXCON), presented the key features of the exercise. The media then visited various structures set up for the exercise, notably the new ones implemented within the Joint Force Air Component Command (JFACC) and presented by Colonel Lefetz. The journalists were very much interested in the Current Ops and logistics support cells.

By noon, Lieutenant-General Mario Ottone, Exercise Director and Lieutenant-General Gilles Desclaux, JFACC Commander, were both present to address the journalists in a News Conference and answer all the questions.

The afternoon was dedicated to the display of the aircraft prticipating part in Noble Ardent. Two French Rafale, two Portuguese F16, a French Super Puma, one Greek Mirage 2000-H, seven French Mirage 2000-5 and three Alphajet were stationed on the Corsican airbase tarmac, while a French AWACS was performing a low altitude fly-by.

As a conclusion of this «Media Day» journalists attended both static and dynamic displays of the air capabilities implemented during the exercise. The first part of the scenario was a simulated attack of the airbase by two French Mirage 2000. The aircraft carried out air-to-ground simulated strikes, which challenged the efficiency of the Ground-Based-Air-Defence (GBAD) systems located on the Corsican base.
Thereafter, one Super Puma from the French helicopters squadron 6/67 «Solenzara» achieved a Search and Rescue (SAR) winding maneuver mission during which two divers, formerly dropped into the Mediterranean Sea for the circumstance, were rescued and recovered by the SAR team.

Later on, the journalists who had been impressed and satisfied by the media-day programme, were flown back to Villacoublay Air Base.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to SIRPA.AIR (Paris) for their support

All photo's:
G.J.A. van Boven
H.P.A.M van Eupen
© Sentry Aviation News

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